Over the weekend, I was walking past the TV and overheard a commercial. A woman said, “My mother feels so stylish wearing her watch instead of those pendants that all of her friends are wearing.” I couldn’t help but smile. That’s how you know an industry is growing: when the technology grows and evolves. With all of the latest technology, it’s never been easier for many independent seniors to age in place versus the dreaded move to a nursing home.
Just a few short years ago, the bracelets and pendants with emergency call buttons were reserved for the elderly who either lived alone or were alone for a portion of the day. It provided peace of mind both to the parent and adult children. For perspective, consider the fact that more than 2 million older Americans own this technology.
It’s not perfect, it’s an ever-evolving technology, after all. Many say up to 40% of those pendants aren’t even worn. Some, including those with dementia, are unable to press the button if they fall. Others press the alarm not to call for help, but simply because they’re lonely and want to chat with the human voice at the call center.
Only 37% of those 80 and older use the Internet at home, but nearly three-quarters of the first wave of baby boomers do, according to a 2014 Pew Research study. The study found that overall, 59% of those 65 and older use the Internet at home, compared to 86% of all adults.
This can make it easy for the technological advances to seamlessly transition since so many of the younger baby boomers are already tech savvy. Needless to say, it’s a market that’s enjoying huge success.
A newer wristwatch will tell independent seniors how many steps they’ve taken all day, it can sense movements, provide reminders for medications or even reminders to feed the dog. Of course, it can also send out an alarm for law enforcement and medical help. Because it can do so many things, it’s a natural fit for anyone over the age of 60.
The potential is grand. Many of the industry leaders are thinking global deployment and are imagining communities where older consumers network; it’s the “strength in numbers” mentality. Think of them as social health networks. Whether it’s a close neighborhood that prizes the sense of community and caring or even an assisted living facility, these are solutions that empower seniors.
Let’s look a bit deeper: studies have been conducted that reveal independent seniors who share their monitoring data with one or more peers become motivated to take better care of themselves. They also are less isolated and depressed, he found, and felt empowered by the monitoring, rather than resentful of it. In fact, many older consumers say they’re more comfortable with sharing the data with their peers or neighbors than they are their adult children. It’s not that they distrust their families; it’s a great way for them to socialize and discuss life in general with those who can share the same sentiments.
Medicaid and Medicare could cover the costs of some of these newer technology security systems, which puts them within reach of those who need them. If you’re wondering if you qualify for Medicaid, we invite you to contact our offices today. We can help guide you through the qualification process.